Vito sprinted after his mark, tackling him to the ground as soon as he was close enough. He stood up and kicked the guy to his back. Kicking his gun away with one foot, Vito dropped the other to the man’s chest. The man’s head jerked off the ground as he coughed. A little smile tugged at one corner of his mouth.
“Shoot him,” Bo said from behind him.
Vito looked back at the blonde over his shoulder. “Why?”
“I’ve already told you why. You aren’t torturing him. I’m not standing here and watching it. Putting him down is the mission. Torturing him would be nothing more than a fun dilly dally for you.”
Vito scoffed. “Anyone ever tell you you’re no fun, Chief?”
Vito nodded back toward the man, pressing his foot down a little harder to keep him grounded. “Just a little bit of dilly dallying?”
“No. I’ve seen enough of your crime scenes, Vito. I don’t need to be here for the making of one.”
“What if I need the fun?”
“Then find someone to sleep with or play poker with instead. Torture cannot be your avenue of ‘fun’, Vito.”
Bo sighed, closing his eyes for a moment. “It just can’t,” he said, his voice much softer than before. “Please, Vito. Listen to me on this one, and I’ll let you do whatever the hell you want to the next person you have to kill in Los Angeles. Right now, I just want to head back so I can find out who shot your brother. And then I just want to go home.”
Vito watched him for a good long while. He wanted to pretend he understood Bo’s need or desire to go home, but he didn’t. He didn’t have anyone or anything to go home to, and he probably never would. Bo did. Bo had a husband and kids and animals to go home to and love. He had those things to love him back. Bo away from home was a Bo missing a piece of himself.
Vito away from home was the same ol’ Vito. Charming and violent and a little too kill-happy. It didn’t matter where he was. It didn’t matter who he was with. He was still Vito.
But regardless of his understanding, he still knew what the right thing to do was.
He turned to the man beneath his foot and shot him twice in the head. “Do I get to decapitate him?”
“I know,” Bo said.
Vito leaned down and, with a gloved finger, traced ‘TMHT’ in the gravel. The cops would be able to identify it by the ballistics of the gun, but he always liked to make sure. He wanted the human trafficker’s little gang to know who was coming after them too. “Okie dokie. Good to go, dude sir.”
“Perfect.” Bo nodded off to his right. “Lead the way, Vi.”
“Oo, a trusted honor.”
Bo snorted. “Call it what you must. I just don’t want you staring at my ass.”
Vito laughed as he walked past Bo. “Rude, but a good call.”
“I specialize in those.” Bo patted his shoulder. “Now let’s go find out who hurt your brother.”
After ‘bothering’ Bo all day and ‘making it hard to focus’, Vito was sent back to Kansas with his bodyguard. Vito was admittedly a little offended, but it was nice to be out of the safe house. The cramped space had made him feel confined, trapped. It had damn near driven him crazy.
He knew Tito was in good hands with Bo and Mekhi, so he was certain he’d be able to have fun without much of his Tito-inspired-stress-and-anxiety creeping in. Which was good, because he planned on having plenty of fun. If he was lucky, that fun would be with Elias. Two nights in a row of not going home with the guy had made Elias a challenge, and Vito Minetti was no quitter.
His bodyguard dropped him off at Drake’s Place without a word or complaint. Truthfully, Vito was beginning to wonder if the guy was mute. Or maybe he was just worried he’d set Vito off and earn a knife to the throat.
That was a solid possibility too.
Vito headed into the bar, eyes landing on Elias almost immediately. He stood by the pool table, a man’s hand on his lower back as he lined up his shot. There was no way in hell Vito was going to let another man steal his gorgeous fucking challenge, especially the ‘challenge’ that wouldn’t sleep with him just because he was pretty.
He ordered a beer and made his way down to the pool table. “Evening, Elias.”
Elias’s head snapped up in his direction. “Wasn’t sure you’d show up tonight.”
Vito held out his arms for a moment. “Tada.”
Elias stepped away from the guy, clearing his throat. “Thank you for helping me practice.”
“Anytime.” The guy sized Vito up, seemingly decided it wasn’t worth the fight, and walked away from the pool table.
“You really do suck at pool, huh?” Vito asked as he rounded the table. He leaned down, lips brushing the shell of Elias’s ear as he whispered, “Or is that just your go-to pick-up line?”
Elias shivered. “My family was more of an outdoors tennis group than a dark bar pool group.”
Vito chuckled. “Slightly less flattered at you letting me teach you, then.” Standing behind Elias, he set his beer aside and pressed his hands to the pool table, trapping him. “You see my plane land today?”
“That why you’re here?”
“Beat me at a game of pool if you want an answer,” Elias said.
Vito smiled. “Deal.” He kissed a place just beneath Elias’s ear and stepped away. “You know I’m gonna win, right?”
Elias snorted. “You suck at pool too. I’ve played against you.” He squeezed Vito’s arm. “I know what too many of these tattoos are for you to be good at this game.”
“Right. I’m pretty shit at it,” Vito agreed. He took a swig of his beer and grabbed a pool cue from the wall. “Rack ‘em up, babe. You break.”
In an unsurprising turn of events, Vito won the game. “So.”
“So?” Elias asked.
Vito smiled, leaning back against the table. “Don’t play innocent with me, Payne. Did you show up here tonight because you knew I was back in town?”
Elias searched his face, hazel eyes shining beneath the light hanging above the pool table. “Yes.”
“Flattered.” Vito curled his fingers beneath Elias’s chin and tilted his head back. “I came to the bar in hopes you’d be here too.”
“Also flattered,” Elias said.
Vito chuckled. “I’m glad to hear it.”
“Yeah? You love flattering your… nightly endeavors?”
“Charm wins people over far more than being a total dick does. So… yeah, I do.”
“Mm.” Elias grabbed Vito’s hand, gently pushing it away from his chin. “I, umm… After you left, I heard about our brother. It was all over the news. I can’t even imagine how hard getting that call was.”
“I don’t wanna talk about my brother. I wanna talk about you and me and how tonight might turn out.”
“I have an early morning flight. I won’t be able to make it if we ditch.”
Vito let out a breath. “Take offense to this if you want, but it’s been a long… let’s say couple hours. Is there any chance in hell you are ever going to sleep with me? Or is this all a big game to you?”
“There’s, umm… there’s always a chance. I told you I don’t really do the one-night-stand thing all that often.”
“I ain’t gonna wine and dine you, Elias.”
Elias snorted. “That’s not what I’m saying. I just don’t sleep around with people I don’t trust to some degree.”
“Someone screw you over once?”
Elias shrugged, but the shift in his expression was more than enough to let Vito know he’d hit a nerve. “Something like that.” Elias cleared his throat. “Still wanna play pool tonight? Or do you have another endeavor to charm and flatter for the night?”
Vito looked around the bar, even though he knew he wasn’t switching gears now. If there was still a chance with Elias, he’d take it. Until the answer was a strict no, he wasn’t throwing away the hours he’d spent with the man. “Nah, all the folks here look pretty boring tonight. I’m looking for fun.” He tapped his beer bottle to Elias’s chest. “Rack up another game, babe.”
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